Ben Ezechime, Enugu
Prof. Joy Ezeilo, Executive Director and Founder, Women Aid Collective (WACOL), has said that, Nigerians are yet to enjoy their full human rights as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution as mended.
She said this in Enugu to mark the 2022 International Human Rights Day with the theme: “Dignity, Freedom, and Justice for All.”
Recall that, 10th of December every year is marked globally as Human Rights Day in commemoration of the adoption of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).
Ezeilo stated that, the citizens of Nigeria were yet to enjoy their human rights, including the basic right to life, healthcare and means for livelihood sustainability.
According to her, the constitutional reforms that should have made legally enforceable socio-economic rights as espoused in chapter two of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended, have been stalled.
She said that the theme encapsulated the standards enshrined in the UDHR and other legally binding human rights treaties that promote and protect all categories of human rights: Civil, Political, Social, Economic, and Cultural.
“The admonition during the 1993 world conference on human rights held in Vienna, Austria to the effect that all human rights are universal, interrelated, interdependent and should be globally treated in an equal manner.
“On the same footing has been largely ignored as many Nigerians continue to wallow in poverty, food and human insecurity,
“WACOL appeals that if we are to guarantee the full enjoyment of all human rights then our socio-economic rights should be made justiceable and realizable,” she said.
Ezeilo explained further that: “As an organization, this year’s theme reminds us of our journey so far, the milestones and challenges we have encountered in our fight to protect human rights and promote justice for all, especially the most vulnerable in society.”
She added that for more than two decades, WACOL has remained committed to its vision and goal of a democratic society free from violence where the human rights of all, women in particular, and children are protected and respected.
“In our just concluded 25th anniversary celebration, we recognized the contributions of icons like Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Justice Nnamani, President of Customary Court of Appeal, Joy Ezeilo, Rev. Surveyor Ugo Chime, Prof. Stella Okunna and Minister of Women Affairs, Pauline Tallen.
“Others are Oby Ezekwesili, Emeritus Professors Bolanle Awe, Obioma Nwaorgu, Maureen Atuonwu, Miriam Menkiti, Funke Baruwa, Joy Onyesoh, Ene Obi, Tony Ojukwu, Igwe RSN Ezeh, Nkechi Ilochi-Kanny and others to ensure a just and fair Nigeria where women and girls enjoy their human rights free from violence and gender-based discrimination.
“We also acknowledged the support of inter-governmental and international organisations like the United Nations and its various agencies, the Ford Foundation, Action Aid, MacArthur Foundation, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, in ensuring that human rights are protected,” she said.
Ezeilo who is the former United Nations Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children also, acknowledged the support from United States Government towards building human rights culture, vibrant civil society, sustainable democracy, and development.
She said it was imperative for all groups to unite and join the fight against injustice/violation of human rights.
“All actors must intentionally work towards effective implementation of the human rights standards, especially the right to life, survival, and development and respect of the principles of equality and non-discrimination.
“Arms of Government, the executive, legislative, and judiciary at different levels – national, state, and local — have an obligation to protect, respect, and remedy any violations of human rights.
“We must all “#StandUp4HumanRight, and take action to educate and create awareness that will enhance the knowledge and enforcement of human rights,” she said.
The WACOL founder pointed out that, “in solidarity, we can achieve a world where human rights are promoted and protected in law and practice even in the remotest part of the communities.”